Turtle, Ecuador

Reviews

Your Words - We tell it like it is! Holiday Reviews by previous Exodus travellers  

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  • Reviewed August 2019
    Jane Turner

    Pandas and warriors

    This is a good trip and includes the major places of interest. The Great Wall, Terracotta Warriors and Pandas being iconic highlights. Cycling to Moon Hill and the whole Yangshuo area brought a lovely change of pace. Overall a few tweaks would make this better - more time to ‘experience’ some of the sights /areas and at least one other hotel with a pool during the trip. Some culinary highlights but a few lowlights (dinner before boarding the train, breakfast at a hotel after the overnight train and the included dinner ‘hotpot’ being particular low lights)

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Great Wall - it’s out in the countryside and therefore quiet. Wonderful views, great walking and a real pleasure.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very proficient, always willing to answer any questions. Organised and trip ran smoothly. Was willing to adapt timing when we asked (The Warriors, Pandas and cycling where we asked for early starts). However didn’t proactively engage or ask questions on how the group wanted to approach the day/ visit - e.g we had to request early starts to avoid crowds; more free time within each attraction rather than 15 minutes here and there would allowed us to get away from the crowds.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It’s a good trip to ‘tick off’ the major attractions but it did feel at times that this is what we were doing. I think this is ‘typical’ for domestic tourists but makes it feel rather like a process. There is a lot of travel involved - all v manageable but be prepared for this and very big crowds of domestic tourists particularly August. To make the most of it you need to do the optional extras otherwise there are chunks of time with not a lot (other than shopping) to do. Some included trips we needed to add on extras (boat ride in Summer Palace) and buggy car transfer from coach to sight at Longman Caves.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A few things could really improve this trip - another pool needed (only opportunity for a swim was our last night) - the Shaolin Temple was v disappointing. - some of the visits were ‘rushed’ eg didn’t have the opportunity to go into the museum or research centre at the Pandas despite it only being 11am. We didn’t have time to walk around the Summer Palace lake (we all paid for a boat instead) and there was no opportunity to go into any of the buildings at the Forbidden City. - the hotels are in good locations but pretty average. Guest house was a pleasure.
  • Reviewed August 2019
    Susanna Buckley

    Wonderful family holiday

    A busy but well organised trip. This was the first time we'd done a trip like this and we don't regret it. We saw so much in the 14 days - I don't think we could have done and seen so much if we'd organised it on our own. Our two children (16 and 18 years old) had a great time. They made friends with the other young people on the trip and this made it easier and enjoyable for everyone. Everything was organised in a family friendly way and the guides were excellent. It was also good to see the way local communities can be supported by responsible travel.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hard to say - so many lovely memories. The sampan trip on the Mekong Delta and the stay at the homestay were great. The trip to Angkor Wat was amazing - the scale of the place is breathtaking.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We had 2 leaders - one in Vietnam and one for Cambodia and Bangkok. Both were excellent.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You need Vietnamese Dong for Vietnam. In Cambodia you can use US Dollars but sometimes it's easier to use Cambodian Riels. ATMs in Cambodia dispense US Dollars and Riels. For Thailand, you'll need Thai Bhat (our guide stopped just before the Thai border so that we could exchange). For visas, you need to pay cash in US Dollars. We found that we needed mainly cash - some of the restaurants didn't accept cards or some places (eg supermarkets) have a minimum spend before using a card and, if you only want a drink, that doesn't come to the minimum spend. Also, if you want to buy in the markets, you'll need cash. There were ATMs near all the places we stayed (except Mekong Delta). Pack light, cotton clothing, you don't really need activewear/trekking wear. There are local laundry services available in Cambodia - around USD2or3 per kg.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Wonderful holiday, wonderful memories. Everyone in the family had a great time.
  • Reviewed August 2019
    Karen Morrow

    Borneo: Lovely but not quite what I'd hoped.

    I have mixed feelings about this trip. On the positive side, my husband and I joined a very lovely and friendly group and a delightful guide (Sheila). The accommodation, although more basic than on some trips we've done, was mainly fine and some of the restaurants Sheila took us to were in lovely positions and had good food - although rice did tend to dominate the menu! We also saw some lovely things, such as Lang's cave, with its stalactites and stalagmites, and Bako national park, where we saw silver leaf monkeys, proboscis monkeys, macaques and bearded pigs. I also particularly enjoyed the river trips and going to the 'sun bear sanctuary' as well as watching flying squirrels 'fly'! However, overall, there was a lot less wildlife around than I have seen on previous holidays (especially our visits to Africa and the Galapagos). On some walks we saw virtually nothing, certainly in the way of larger mammals or birds. I think the trip notes - and even the very name of the trip! - implies that you'll see a lot more. Like most groups apparently, we did not see elephants at all ('A rare thing to see around here' according to the guide). We also did not see rhinos (I've never seen one in 22 years...'), or, of course, more elusive animals such as leopards or wild sun bears.. We fortunately did see wild orangutans but only briefly on two occasions and at a distance. A necessary evil in such trips is the travelling. However, in Africa, we would often see interesting animals 'en route'. In Borneo, for a large majority of the time, we were travelling through endless miles of palm oil plantations, which have been planted where rain forest used to be, and virtually no animal life - or wildlife of ANY type except for the trees themselves - exists in these massively impoverished environments. It was very sad to see, as well as being, frankly, tedious. If you, like us, would like a trip based on special scenery and fairly frequent sightings of larger/interesting mammals or birds, then I personally feel this trip is probably not one to choose.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were a few. I particularly enjoyed watching the flying squirrels 'fly' and the proboscis monkeys were lovely to watch. The sun bear sanctuary was interesting and watching thousands of bats emerge from a cave in the late afternoon and fly off 'in formation' was also fascinating.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader, Sheila, was very sweet and kind. She worked hard, was anxious to please and was very concerned about our safety and wellbeing. Her only slight fault was to under-estimate how long each activity would take, so we invariably were running late and time to shower, or relax, was often considerably reduced.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The animals and birds we did see could often be a long way away, so take a good pair of binoculars and a camera with a lot of zoom. We did not have a lot of rainy days, but when it rains, it POURS, so also take a good waterproof and NEVER go out without it! (We did on a visit to a restaurant and would have been soaked through, if Sheila hadn't been able to beg a lift back for us.) You will also need a lot of insect repellent, as there are many mosquitos and sand flies. In some jungle areas, there are also a lot of leeches, so leech socks (or a good pair of long socks such as football socks) are also a 'must'.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is a good holiday for people who are generally interested in being in a rain forest environment, or have a particular interest in insect life or plant life species. It also gives you a realistic chance to see such lovely (and funny!) animals as proboscis monkeys or the stunning silver leaf monkeys. However, if you want to see many different animals, be aware that most species are very elusive and you may see a lot less than you'd like over the two weeks.
  • Reviewed August 2019
    Neil Pearson

    Brilliant 'last' family holiday with our kids before they head off into the world / don't want to go on family holidays

    It's a busy trip, with a lot packed into 14 days, but absolutely worth the effort as the experiences are amazing. We could never have done this in this way as independent travellers, so it was definitely the right choice to take the trip with Exodus. It just made everything easy and allowed the group to make the most of the time, and experience as much as possible. Very good ground transportation provided, comfortable and safe There are a couple of long drives, but they are broken up with interesting stops along the way - so while it looks a little bleak in the itinerary they are absolutely fine (although the Siem Reap to Bangkok drive is a tough one). Hotels all good to very good, and almost all with good pools too; the homestay is great too...more basic but one of the more memorable nights on the trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    28km cycling ride around the Ankhor Wat complex is brilliant - it's all flat out there so not too taxing, although we were all tired at the end of the day. Killing Fields and S21 make for a very sobering and quite graphic day that you will not forget Cu Chi Tunnels and the museum in Ho Chi Minh City is brilliant and to see the story from a very local perspective is interesting Sampan down the Mekong River is great, quite short in the grand scheme of the holiday, but big on memories. Our kids (18 & 15) had an amazing time with the other kids on the trip, all about the same age and they all got on really well. So good to see them having fun and bonding with their peers.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our tour had 2 group leaders, one in Vietnam and one for Cambodia and Thailand. Very different personalities, but both very good and knowledgable and we never felt like we were in anything other than safe hands at all times

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The temples are fine with shorts that are ON the knee, they don't have to be below the knee. For those people who had the wrong shorts, you could buy classic Asian cotton baggy trousers for $3 at the temples, so don't worry too much about this. A few of our group stayed on for an extra night in Bangkok, and I think this is good advice...an extra day of free time in Bangkok could be useful just to slow the pace down before you travel home as it's a busy schedule and you may want to take in a few of the sights that are not on the trip. The homestay is a brilliant experience, it's more simple accommodation than the rest of the trip, but is very comfortable and such a fun night for the group..it's the moment on the trip where we got time to chat and become friends with each other.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Amazing family holiday and experience - we all loved it.
  • Reviewed August 2019
    Karie Bala

    Life Changing Experience

    Just back and can't quite believe what we saw and experienced on this trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    We were lucky enough to see a wild pigmy elephant, crossing the river right in front of our boat. Lucky for us, we were alone on the river. Sunrise at the Wildlife Discovery Centre in Sepilok had us up close with a somewhat angry wild orang-utan, which was definitely an experience! At the Sun Bear Sanctuary we met Poppa Bear (Wong) who, if you've seen the ITV Borneo show with Judi Dench, you will know instantly. He, like every other Bornean, was extremely friendly, and happy to chat at length about about the gorgeous Sun Bears. Visiting Labuk Bay and the Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary was a special place, my favourite being the Silver Leaf Monkeys and one baby. And snorkelling off of Manukan Island was top notch, and accommodation there was lush! Could have used a few more days. Be sure to order a kopi tarik at the take away cafe toward the pool. They open at 7.30 am.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Manuel, our tour leader, was amazing. We were such a lucky group and could have not asked for a better leader to gel our Exodus Team! He was knowledgable, compassionate, and a pleasure to be around. I'm looking forward to another Manuel Exodus tour in the future, as he really bonded with every member of our tour and we were all sad to say our goodbyes.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Luggage - You have to carry your own nearly everywhere, so pack as light as possible, in a soft pack. Leech socks - I was very worried about finding these here before we left, but we found some in the Centre Pointe Mall on the ground level. They were also available to rent at the Bilit Adventure Lodge along with wellington boots! Sleep - Our entire group had problems sleeping on various parts of our tour. No way to combat it, but be ready. Bug spray - Take it with you an top up regularly, especially in the rainforest areas. Plasters - Take these too as you may have blisters. Roti cannai - Try this in the Centre Point basement Islamic Center restaurant. It doesn't look like much, but we were there every day were were in KK. You'll see red plastic chairs and know you're in the right place. 1x roti cannai costs 1.50RM, so like 30p, and it's the best we found on the whole tour. Noodles and rice dishes were great too. Laundry - Forget about it. Know by the end you're going to stink. So will all your travel companions. Use laundry services where they're available; we found the Sabah Tea Longhouse laundry to be a reprieve from the stink! The last hotels on the trip will happily take any clothes you don't want to take home with you and distribute to those in need. A good idea (stolen from travel mates) is to buy clothes at the charity shop and leave them with you. Best thing to wear would be lightweight long sleeved shirts! If you put any effort into this tour, you'll be handsomely rewarded - early morning treks provided us with a personal encounter with a pigmy elephant as well as an orang-utan. It was special!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Don't hesitate. I'm experiencing massive post-holiday blues as this holiday was particularly life changing for me. Amazing. Enjoy.
  • Reviewed August 2019
    David Dunlop

    Holiday to remember

    Lots of activities and visits throughout. Vietnam worth visiting and the trip enabled us to see the real Vietnam as well as the tourist Vietnam. Most of the children fully engaged with the spirit of the holiday.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    One of the children singing ‘all star’ on the bus. It livened up one of the lengthy bus trips. Halong Bay was picturesque. The weather was excellent which resulted in good swimming and kayaking not to mention the photographs from the glorious sunset. Whale Island was beautiful though the weather was windy owing to a nearby typhoon which brought in a lots of debris to the island. Walks around the island are well signed and worth exploring.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ngoc personality and sense of humour drove the trip. He was flexible and understanding and handled all group members diplomatically. He also explained clearly Vietnam’s geopolitical and environmental challenges, the religious and cultural diversity, and the population pressures particularly on housing and incomes. He got the balance right and occasionally fooled parents / children on elements of the trip - in particular the homestay!!
  • Reviewed August 2019

    Safari in the Masai Mara

    Me and my family enjoy this trip. We travel via boat. Staying in tents is really awesome and adventures.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Camping
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Jane De Vries

    Superb family adventure

    We booked a private tailor made slightly shortened 6 day Camels and Kasbahs itinerary to fit with the half term school holidays of our teenage children. It was a really excellent adventure and introduction to Morocco, starting in Marrakech, crossing the High Atlas Mountains to the Sahara desert and back to Marrakech. We really felt like we got to know the essence of Morocco in a relatively short trip, and also felt safe at all times thanks to our superb guide Abdul and very safe driver Moustafa. We definitely intend to return to this beautiful country.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Highlights were staying and stargazing in the remote Berber village of Tighza in the High Atlas Mountains, bargaining for a carpet in the remote desert town of Rissani and camel trekking and climbing the sand dunes to watch sunset over the Sahara in Mergouza.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our guide Abdul was insightful, humorous and spoke perfect English. We learned a huge amount from him about the culture and way of life in Morocco. Moustafa was our friendly and very safe driver, transporting us in a comfortable air conditioned minibus. We were very well looked after.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring head scarves for the desert, or you can buy them en route. Stock up on small value dirham notes and coins for tipping along the way.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    No
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Kristen Sinclair

    Wonderful time! ALOT of walking!

    Myself and my 13 year old son had a wonderful time in Japan with Exodus. Each day was action packed and we saw many more sights than if we travelled independently. My only advice is to remember it is a tour, not a holiday. It is a constant 12 days and there is ALOT of walking involved. However, the experience is a time we shall never forget!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I enjoyed the river ride in Kyoto, the monkey park, the 1000 vermillion gates, the floating Tori gate, Hiroshima A-Dome, peace park and museum, Mount Fuji, Hakone and all of Tokyo.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Miyuki was very friendly and Popajin was very knowledgable and went out of his way to take us to the robot restaurant.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    To remember it is a tour, not a holiday, and the amount of walking and activities can be quite intense, especially if travelling with children.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We had a wonderful time, memories for the rest of our lives! A rest day in the middle would have been nice.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Gordon Goldsmith

    Taj Tigers & Temples

    Amazing trip , well organised & staff where very reliable & friendly Day to day changes in the Itinerary or timetable did not effect our enjoyment too much But changes were partly due to a larger group than expected , (25) Having met our initial group, about 10 joined up later on the first day which we where not expecting & the dynamic's of the group where somewhat affected for most of the trip ! An example to highlight this happened when the second group ( who also previously knew each other )wanted to go Elephant riding . The 'original ' group had to seat it out as we all did not approve & had not asked for this

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Gurudwara Sikh Temple in Old Delhi ALL the early morning starts … great

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ajay Gupta was a very good guide Knowledgeable , witty ,very accommodating with some overbearing aspects of certain group members He also managed to be diplomatic at all times & showed lots of patience

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    No not really If you have never traviled before , its all in the notes supplied Do not feel concerned about things like water , safety etc... India is changing very fast !

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Possible inclusions for the trip A few more walk-a -bout's at times in interesting areas & suburbs Reduce group size so there can be a few more ,'smaller & interesting hotels , some in the city centres Rather than on this trip where they were predominately 'out of town' , so no opportunity to eat out

    Reply from Exodus

    Reply from Exodus

    We would like to thank Gordon for his review, and we were very pleased to read that overall this was an enjoyable holiday.  We were, however, concerned to learn that an elephant ride was arranged by the tour leader for some members of the group, as our policy on elephant riding is very clear; we do not condone this practise because it can be extremely negative both physically and mentally for the elephants.  Our tour leaders are informed of our Responsible Travel policies and are expected to adhere to them.  In this case, the leader acted independently and in breach of our policies, which we have followed up on.  We would also like to apologise for the inconvenience that Gordon and other members of the group experienced as a result of this matter.   

     

    Kashka Lantis - Product Manager for India